June 6, 2023

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Senators advocate for Apple and Google Mobile Tracking and warn of abortion-related data privacy risks

Senators advocate for Apple and Google Mobile Tracking and warn of abortion-related data privacy risks

Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, Cory Booker and Sarah Jacobs urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google for failing to warn consumers about the potential harms associated with Advertising Tracking Identifiers in their mobile operating systems.

“These identifiers have fueled the unregulated data broker market by creating a single piece of information associated with a device that data brokers and their customers can use to link with other data about consumers,” according to the lawmakers. wrote in a letter Friday. “This data is purchased or obtained from app developers and online advertisers, and can include consumer movements and web browsing activity.”

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While consumers can opt out of tracking, they argue that Apple and Google have “enabled governments and private actors to exploit ad tracking systems for their own surveillance and exposed hundreds of millions of Americans to serious privacy damage.”

The letter continues: “The FTC should investigate the role of Apple and Google in transforming online advertising into an extensive surveillance system that incentivizes and facilitates the unrestricted collection and continued sale of Americans’ personal data.” “These companies have failed to inform consumers of the privacy and security risks involved in using these products. It is too late to put an end to the privacy damage these companies impose on consumers.”

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The letter specifically focuses on the potential vulnerability of individuals seeking abortion and the following other reproductive health care Friday’s Supreme Court decision to dismiss Roe v. Wade.

“Data brokers are already selling, licensing, and sharing location information of people who visit abortion providers to anyone with a credit card,” the lawmakers say. “Prosecutors in states where abortion is now illegal will soon be able to obtain orders to obtain location information about anyone who has visited an abortion provider. Private actors will also be incentivized through government reward laws to track down women who have obtained or sought abortions. By accessing location information through shady data brokers.”

A Google spokesperson told FOX Business that the company “never sells user data” and that Google Play strictly prohibits the sale of user data by developers.

The tech giant added: “The advertising identifier was created to give users more control and provide developers with a more personalized way to effectively monetize their apps.” “Any claims that an advertising identifier was created to facilitate data sales are simply false.”

In addition to being able to delete the advertising ID at any time, Google has rolled out the Privacy Sandbox on Android to limit data sharing with third parties. An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to a FOX Business request for comment.

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital privacy rights group, advises Internet users concerned with their abortion-related data to carefully review privacy settings on the services they use, and turn off location services on apps you don’t need. and use of encrypted messaging services.

“Everyone deserves to have strong controls over the collection and use of information that they necessarily leave behind in the course of their normal activities, such as using apps, search engine queries, posting to social media, texting friends, etc.,” CEO of the Foundation EFF Cindy Cohn and Legal Director Corinne McSherry said in a statement. “But those who seek, offer or facilitate abortion must now assume that any data they provide online or offline can be sought by law enforcement.”

It also suggests that companies should protect users by allowing anonymous access, stopping behavioral tracking, strengthening data deletion policies, introducing end-to-end and in-transit encryption, preventing location tracking, and ensuring users get notified when their data is searched.

In addition, the organization calls on federal and state policy makers to pass meaningful privacy legislation.

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At least 13 states in the country have a so-called Trigger laws A ban on most abortions that would take effect immediately or within weeks of the annulment of Roe v. Wade.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group, those states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, which just passed its launch. Law in April.

There are also five additional states — Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — that still have bans on abortion on the books by Roe v. Wade, which will now take effect after the landmark 1973 law was repealed.

Jessica Chasmar of Fox News contributed to this report

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